Irish mixed-martial artist Ian ‘The Future’ Garry (7-0) will achieve his goal of fighting in the UFC by the age of 23 when he takes on Jordan ‘Bomaye’ Williams (9-5 1NC, 0-2 UFC) at UFC 268 on Saturday, November 6.
Garry enters the UFC as the former Cage Warriors welterweight champion with an 11-fight win streak, seven of those coming since he turned professional.
Two-and-a-half years after making his pro debut, The Future will step into the octagon in front of fans on one of the most anticipated cards of the year.
“I’ve been saying since I started MMA – I wanted to have fought by 19, made my pro debut by 21 and I wanted to fight in the UFC by the time I’m 23.”
The Irishman will get his wish with 11 days to spare as he turns 24 on November 17 and he is preparing to do so with Sanford MMA after moving to America after getting his UFC contract.
The Florida-based gym has fighters such as Robbie Lawler, Gilbert Burns and Ian Heinisch on the roster.
The latter had a sparring session with Garry that led him to get a cut above his eye previous to the interview after he had grazed the cage.
The unbeaten fighter praised his new gym, describing it as an “absolutely insane” place to get to train at.
“It’s a mat full of elite, world-class talent and it’s a blessing to be able to step onto the mats and learn from coaches and teammates of that calibre.”
Heinisch, along with Impa Kasanganay and Phil Hawes have been training with the 23-year-old ahead of his Stateside debut
The prospect is working under gym founders Henri Hooft and Greg Jones, as well as Jason Strout, all three of whom will corner him for the fight.
He relishes the opportunity to make his UFC debut in front of fans after the onset of the pandemic in March 2020 led to him missing out on that experience in his last four fights.
“268 is going to be the fight that I’m going to enjoy,” Garry exclaimed. “All the hard work that I put in in the last four years to get to where I am, has been an accumulation of hard work, dedication, sacrifice, all for like this moment, all for this fight…
“…Now I’ve got to go in there – fight, have fun, put on a show – and show people why I’m this f**king good, why I’ve got this hype, why people are talking about me being ‘the next Conor McGregor.’ – why people are saying I’m the next big thing in MMA.”
The fight comes less than five months after his friend, now CW featherweight king Paul Hughes was in his corner on short notice for Garry’s win over Jack Grant to earn his belt at 170 lbs.
He was kicked out of his previous gym, Team KF Martial Arts in Swords, a week out from his bout with Grant “after repeated warnings regarding his behaviour to other teammates and his coaches,” according to a statement from his former gym.
Garry’s point-of-view on the split is seen in the Curly Top documentary ‘Ian Garry: The Future’ which follows the mixed-martial artist in the build-up to his title bout.
“I had a lot of people behind me and a lot of people who wanted to be there for me, who supported me, and that’s what matters is that there are people out there that support you and no matter what you do, you’ll always find someone to have your back.”
The victory over Jack Grant proved to be the final fight for the 7-0 fighter in Cage Warriors as the UFC came calling right after he got gold around his waist.
The UFC deal has helped put Irish MMA in the spotlight it was once in – on top of Garry, Peter Queally and Sinead Kavanagh are fighting for titles at Bellator while Hughes and Joe McColgan already hold them at Cage Warriors.
He is aiming to join the likes of Conor McGregor, Michael Bisping and Joanna Jędrzejczyk on the list of fighters from the Irish-owned promotion to become UFC champions, having already joined the long list of those who have made the switch to the American promotion.
“I think it’s pretty obvious how good [Cage Warriors] are and what they do…I mean they’re absolutely sensational at what they do and they deserve all the praise.
“The fact that they got to put on shows during the pandemic and enabled us to continue our careers in fighting and show off our skill sets, while the world was shut down is massive.
“They’re an amazing organisation – Graham [Boylan] and Ian [Dean] work their asses off. It was a pleasure to be part of that organisation and be a part of their lineage and their history and now it’s time to go on and set my legacy in the UFC.”